Chiara commentary

The Chiaras recently played in New Britain, CT, and stopped by Community MusicWorks to visit with our friends in the Providence Quartet, and also to see what Community MusicWorks is all about, as we had not yet seen it in action.

We participated in what they call a "Performance Party" [Editor’s note: see February 16 entry] which was basically a concert for all of the student participants in Community MusicWorks, but with a safe environment in which to play. The concert began with us performing the first movement of Beethoven’s Op. 59 No. 3 followed by a cover we do of Prince’s "Let’s Go Crazy," and then the students performed.

I have never seen a concert quite like this one, students performed their basic beginner works interspersed with "public service announcements" – fake commercials for things like practice consultants and sightreading practice books – and there were brilliant uses of comedy to combine performances of students at vastly different levels. For instance, in "Break Allegro" (pronounced by the narrator as "break a leg-ro"), based on Suzuki book 1’s Allegro, at the fermata near the end, beginner students suddenly jumped out and began tremoloing like crazy until Jesse Holstein, who was leading the performance, cut them off.

In the end, it was the safest environment for performing mixed with fun I’ve seen.  It’s also a tradition for them to bring in high-level professional ensembles and individual performers to expose the kids to the highest possible level as often as possible, something I never had in my early musical training outside of recordings and the occasional stuffy concert.

-Greg Beaver, Chiara String Quartet

All-student retreat

At the beginning of the day on our annual all-student retreat, some staff wrote down what we hoped to get out of the day: smiles, new friendships, a stronger sense of community among students, fun. After organizing at the CMW office, we boarded two buses and took off for Canonicus Camp and Conference Center, where we were greeted with a hearty breakfast snack, followed by a day of facilitated games, lunch, hiking, more snacks, and a closing ritual. Name games, acting games, group problem solving, and more. The pictures tell the story best.



On the bus home, two students told me that before the day they didn’t know each other and that now they were good friends. Duets to come?

-Sebastian Ruth, Providence String Quartet

Dvorak in… New London

The Providence Quartet (with Minna but minus Frank) will present their "Dvorak in America" program once more later this month, this time as a free community concert sponsored by Connecticut College. Here is an image of the flyer:


Performance Party at Paul Cuffee

One of the age-old traditions of CMW happened today, the Performance Party.


A day of dread, excitement, fear, hope, stress, love, and community. For some, including me, it was a time of nostalgia with the classic favorites such as Lightly Row, Bouree, Minuet No. 3 along with the Phase II traditionals (Lift Every Voice and Sing, Wade in the Water, and We Shall Overcome). It was a great time to reconnect with the families of CMW and see the new generation of musicians showcase their talents.


Admittedly I got a little choked up watching the young ‘uns with the little 1/4 size intruments playing songs that I had once played, especially when my sister pointed out that the Tallis Canon as one of the songs I had butchered as a beginner and that Philana, Joshua, Ruby, Anthony, and Jose did a much better job.

-Carolina Jimenez, Phase II


[Editor’s note: Special thanks to the Paul Cuffee School for helping us out, and to our guests, the Chiara String Quartet, for their incredible musical contributions today!]

Notes from the Hood

I suppose the editors of Rhode Island Monthly magazine were looking to be provocative with the title of this month’s feature article.


It hasn’t been sitting well with CMW folks, especially Josh who says he’ll be posting a letter to the editor on the blog soon. Well, at least the article itself (crafted by Lisa Palmer) is a nice window into some of the complexities of CMW student life.

-Heath Marlow, CMW staff

Triumph at Tufts, Interview by Carolina

I’m terribly biased, and I think that means that I get an even more special experience at each concert because of knowing the performers as well as I do. (Is there really any better recipe for experiencing live music?) Last evening’s PSQ performance at Tufts University was powerful, radiant, and entirely from the heart. I enjoyed every minute of it.




-Heath Marlow, CMW staff

Last weekend during the PSQ rehearsal before the Tufts concert, I got a chance to meet Suha, the new face in the CMW family. There was a lot of fuss around the birth of this new 7lb and 13oz. Kareem impersonator (with more hair, granted). With all this news and excitement, I wanted to see  what Suha thought of this whole being alive thing. So, with permission from her parents, I interviewed this up-and-coming little rag-a-muffin.
So, Suha what do you think about your name?

She gargles a bit and stares off into space, trying to seem as though she’s not giving it much thought and nonchalantly answers with a hiccup.

Man, she was one tough cookie.

What do you think about the whole being alive thing?

We can constitute for the fact that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and the world has rebelled against the powers through small insurgencies. Now and then the people are victorious, but only for a time. The real fruit of their battles lie not in the immediate result, but in the ever expanding union of the universe.*

Wow that was deep.

So what do you think of Dvorak?

She scrunched her face up a bit and then burped.

And that was my first encounter with the little baby Suha. I think we have gained a mini-Revolutionist and must cherish her (even if she isn’t, she’s still awesome).

*Inferred by her action of showing me her palm.

-Carolina Jimenez, Phase II